Leeds is one of the top UK destinations in numbers of live music venues. With major as well as intimate venues placed within walking distance of each other, the pulsing live music scene attracts not only world-class stars, but also creates an atmosphere for supporting local newcomers. It’s this D.I.Y. creative music culture that continually generates an inspiring and authentic counterpart to mainstream commercial music. Leeds is also host to huge Leeds Festival, northern twin to Reading Festival.
Check out the venue and festival guide below to get our best tips for accomodation, day activities as well as bars and restaurants before and after the gig.
When the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen opened in 2013, it responded to a need for a large-room live music venue with a decent bar, craft beer, and reliable street food. What was once a large nursery school in the city’s Northern Quarter is now a vibrant, youthful, three-storey hangout and one of the city’s best live music venues. Ultimate highlight: the spectacular roof terrace.
Leeds University, really? Yes, it's not only a place to study, but also to enjoy live music in three different venues, with The Refectory the most popular one. Situated in the heart of the campus, it hosted legendary performances since the 60s such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. The venue is highly renowned for The Who live album Live at Leeds which was recorded there.
Brudenell Social Club is a non-profit community and live music venue northwest of Leeds city centre. It is a centrepiece of the local music scene and most famous for hosting secret gigs for bands like Franz Ferdinand, British Sea Power, and Kaiser Chiefs. It is owned and run by members, for members.
The arrival of this first large-capacity venue was undoubtedly long-overdue. Before, Leeds was left behind as huge Rock bands toured the country, who were forced to play in Sheffield, Liverpool, or Manchester, instead of the city equally famed for its contribution to music. The calendar of First Direct Arena has a strong emphasis on Rock ‘n’ Roll.
It's an impressive Gothic building that hosts O2 Academy Leeds. With global superstars as well as local newcomers on the event calendar, this is one of the most renowned venues in town. Also centrally located in walking distance to main sightseeing attractions, shopping options and numerous bars and restaurants, O2 Academy is a hotspot for both locals and tourists.
Leeds Festival alongside with its twin Reading Festival, marks one of the most iconic British music events. Basically a Rock festival, it also showcases a line-up that spans various genres including Metal, Punk, Indie, and House. It's a true Hall Of Fame that have graced Leeds Festival famous main stage. Among them AC/DC, Metallica, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name a few.
The Wardrobe offers a full event calendar of gigs, combined with excellent drinks and food. Also a great choice if you are looking for smaller shows - whether music, comedy, or art performances. The basement venue hosts bigger, yet intimate live performances. As for the kitchen, The Wardrobe provides a delicious selection of pre or post gig snacks, salads, and burgers on its menu.
Headrow House opened up in 2015 and has since become one of the most popular music venues in Leeds, helped by it’s amazing beer hall, cocktail bar, restaurant, and rooftop terraces, no doubt. For a really cool relaxed feel and definitely worth a visit. Also hosting numerous live performances from both renowned and upcoming artists and bands.
Since its beginnings in 2007, Live at Leeds is an award winning metropolitan festival held annually within a variety of venues and spaces in Leeds city centre. Most of them even in walking distance. It showcases the best new emerging artists alongside more established acts from around the world.